Attack on Hamburg synagogue highlights rising antisemitism in Germany

Attack on Hamburg synagogue highlights rising antisemitism in Germany

Yesterday, on Sunday 4 October, a man in military clothing attacked a 26-year-old Jewish student outside the synagogue in Eimsbüttel, a part of the German city of Hamburg. The attacker was armed with a folding shovel which he used to cause serious head injuries to his victim.

The student was wearing a kippah at the time of the attack, which suggests an antisemitic motive. This is further supported by the police reporting they found a note in the attacker’s pocket containing a swastika.


The Hohe Weide Synagogue in Hamburg, where the attack took place, is one of the biggest in the country with over 3,000 members. At the time of the attack many people were there to celebrate Sukkot. Apart from the synagogue’s own security, a police post was also present to protect the congregation. The student had stepped outside when he was assaulted.

Security at the synagogue caught the attacker, a 29-year-old man from Berlin, and held him until police arrived and arrested him. Authorities describe him as very confused and difficult to interrogate. 

Passers-by administered first aid to the victim. He is now in hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.

An antisemitism problem

The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) registered 1,603 antisemitic crimes in 2018, and 1,898 in 2019. Of the latter 62 were violent crimes.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany stated it believes there are a significant number of additional cases of antisemitic crimes that went unreported due to a lack of belief in the police to act on them. Its president, Josef Schuster, described the situation as follows:

The breaking of taboos and linguistic disinhibition we witness everywhere, and which are decidedly fuelled by the AfD, ultimately lead to actions. 

Attacks during Jewish holidays

The attack occurred on the second day of the Jewish festival of Sukkot, which mirrors the attack on the synagogue in Halle less than a year ago during Yom Kippur.

Last year’s attack left two people dead after the assailant, dressed in camouflage, fired at the synagogue after failing to enter the building. He killed a passer-by and fired at a nearby kebab shop, killing a 20-year-old man inside.

According to his manifesto, his plan was to “to kill as many anti-whites as possible, preferably Jews”.

Shlomo Bistritzky, regional chief rabbi in Hamburg, has asked why the assault in Eimsbüttel can occur less than a year after the Halle murders. As a result, he called for action instead of solidarity to stop the attacks on the Jewish community.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – Catrin

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